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ADIF calls Google’s ‘user choice billing’ a misnomer

We at ADIF believe that Google’s move to allow select app developers to offer other payment methods – instead of mandatorily enforcing Google Play Billing – is a clear admission of guilt that the existing policy is unfair and discriminatory. User choice billing should be made a rule for all developers and not an exception for a select company. Extending this to only a few companies without much clarity on the terms & commission rates reeks of preferential treatment – again unfair & discriminatory.

Google holds the discretionary power to decide who gets to avail “user choice billing” and on what terms. Calling it “user choice billing” is a misnomer and should instead be read as Google choice billing.

Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director, ADIF said:

“This is essentially “Google” choice billing and has nothing to do with “user” choice. The fact of the matter remains that this announcement does nothing to address the underlying issues and concerns: the anti-competitive nature of the policy or the impending March 31 deadline for enforcing this policy. Moreover, the announcement coming in exactly a week before this deadline, must be called out for what it is – an arrogant attempt at headline management and a blatant disregard for the concerns that are repeatedly being raised by companies and developers the world over.”

As per Google, this pilot will be rolled out only by the end of the year, and details of the terms of the agreement are also not forthcoming. With the deadline barely a week away, this announcement seems like headline management and yet another distract and deflect tactic.

Backlash from Indian developers and intervention by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) forced Google to extend the Play Billing deadline to October in India. However, for the rest of the world, come March 31, developers will have to pay high commissions and mandatorily use the Google Billing System. It’s about time Google’s high-handedness is put to an end.

“With their measures and announcements, Google is trying to create an illusion of choice. We at ADIF urge for an extension of choice to all apps and an immediate extension of March 31 deadline for all,” added Sijo Kuruvilla George.

Forcing app developers to use Google or Apple’s billing system for in-app purchases and then charging steep commissions to publish apps on their marketplace is an unfair practice by the two ‘gatekeepers’ of the digital economy and a clear abuse of their dominant power.

There has been global backlash against both Apple and Google with South Korea recently being the first to take legislative action against the anti-competitive and restrictive practices of app store operators by barring “the act of forcing a specific payment method to a provider of mobile content.”

CT Bureau

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